yogurt and saffron stew recipe
Written by Vahid Epagloo, Food Consultant Updated:

Iran is the land of the abundance of saffron, known as “red gold”. Emerging in the country that produces 90% of the total global production of saffron, Persian cuisine is full of innovations in food recipes in which saffron threads play a central role. Through the following lines, we want to take you to one of the most beautiful cities in Iran and introduce you to one of the achievements of Iran’s food traditions and see how saffron recipes are the best.

Isfahani yogurt and saffron stew

Isfahani yogurt stew (Khoresh Mast) is one of the most popular and delicious Persian dishes, which originally belonged to the city of Isfahan. It is interesting to know that this authentic Iranian stew is the only one that is served as a dessert.

Of course, yogurt stew can be used as a complete meal because it has nutritious and complete ingredients. Being kind of oddly sweet, the yogurt and saffron stew are different from other stews in that most of them are normally sour or salty.

Neck stew is usually cooked with boneless sheep neck meat, but if you do not like to use sheep neck meat, it can also be prepared with white meat such as chicken and turkey.

Now let’s have a look at the ingredients included in this recipe, which will enable you to prepare yogurt stew for 4 people. If you want to make more or less stew, just multiply or divide the amount of ingredients.

Ingredients for 4 people

1 piece of medium yellow onion

1/2 cup of Sugar

1 tablespoon of Rosewater

1 tablespoon of walnut kernels

1 tablespoon of Sliced almonds

3 cups of regular plain yogurt( full- fat is prefered if your diet allow you this option)

250 grams of sheep neck meat

1 tablespoon of thick-brewed saffron threads

A pinch of Pistachio and barberry slices for decoration

A pinch of Salt, black pepper, and turmeric as much as you need

Cooking process

To prepare Isfahani yogurt stew, first fill a suitable pot of soup with water and put it on the heat, then after removing the skin, cut the onion in half and add it to the pot. Next, add the neck meat with a little turmeric and allow the neck meat to cook with high heat.

After the neck meat is well cooked, remove the pot from the heat and remove the meat from the pot. Carefully remove the bones in the meat, then put the meat in a suitable container (preferably a copper container).

This step is the most important step of cooking yogurt stew and you must do it well. At this stage, you should pound the meat until it turns white and elastic. If you do this well, your yogurt stew will be elastic and consistent.

In the next step, choose a suitable pot and pour full-fat yogurt with sugar into the pot. Next, mix the ingredients well, then put the pot on low heat and stir constantly until the yogurt bubbles and is close to boiling.

After the yogurt boils, add the pounded meat to the pot and continue stirring until the ingredients are uniform. After the meat is well mixed with the other ingredients, add walnut kernels along with almond slices, brewed saffron, rose water, and some salt.

Stir the ingredients for a few more minutes until they are uniform, then remove from the heat and put in the container you want. Garnish the yogurt stew with pistachio and barberry slices and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, then serve.

Another interesting point about yogurt stew is that, unlike other famous Iranian stews, this stew is served cold. If you wish, you can use egg yolk and heavy cream to make the yogurt stew more delicious.

Chicken Option

If you are not OK with red meat or you do not find the combination of red meat with yogurt and sugar interesting, you can prepare this stew with chicken breast. For 4 people, it is enough to use 400 grams of chicken meat. The cooking steps are no different.

From Isfahani Beryuni to Indian Biryani

Beryani (Beryuni in Isfahani accent), along with yogurt stew, is another famous traditional dish of Isfahan, which is a fried mixture of neck meat and white liver with the addition of various spices, and no trace of saffron can be found among them. With a similar pronunciation, Biryani is a food in South Asia that is somewhat similar to yogurt stew and saffron is used in it. The word “beryan” in Persian means grilled. From this point of view, these two foods are not Biryani/Biryani at all, but the basis of both of them is sheep meat, although, in Indian Biryani, other types of meat are used, such as lamb or beef, or even chicken and seafood.

Therefore, depending on where you are, the answer would be different to represent what Beryani/Biyani is.

Indian Biryani is a South Asian one-pot dish that combines lamb, mutton, beef, chicken, seafood, or a mixture of vegetables with rice. A special layering technique is used in Biryani to distinguish it from other rice dishes.

Although Indian Biryanis are different based on the region (such as Bombay biryani, Hyderabadi biryani, etc.), there are generally two main methods for preparing the food. If raw meat is cooked mostly with Basmati rice brand, it is called “Kachi” (it means “raw” in Hindi). If you cooked meat separately, you would use the “Pakki” method (That means “cooked” in Hindi).

A combination of spices, herbs, and extracts is infused into the meat and rice. Finally, in order to add bright orange and yellow colors to the white rice, saffron threads, and turmeric enter into the scene so that your palate and tongue can enjoy its aroma and taste, and your eyes will shine looking at the kaleidoscope of this dish.


You can make Isfahani yogurt stew with both meat and chicken. We bet both would be beloved dishes You can also eat it as a dessert or as a main dish. Anyway, you have to taste it cold to feel its original taste. The saffron you buy from Ghaaneh Brands guarantees the best aroma and taste for your oriental cuisine adventure, cooking Yogurt stew or Biryani.


Can we use meat from other parts of the sheep’s body instead of neck meat?

Yes, although meat is softer, it is much easier to pound it.

Are we limited to only sheep neck meat in cooking yogurt stew?

Not at all. Depending on your taste, you can substitute chicken and turkey meat for sheep’s neck meat. No one has tried fish meat in this case. You can try and report!

Are Isfahani and Indian Biryani the same?

They have only two points in common; One is that they have changed the meaning of the word “Beryan” in Persian, and the other is that sheep meat is used in the texture of both of them. Indian Biryani has many points in common with Isfahani yogurt stew due to the variety in the use of different types of meat, as well as the use of yogurt and saffron. But in fact, we can consider it a type of saffron rice.

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